‘Fringe’ premieres on FOX

John Sturgeon

J.J. Abrams has done it all.

He’s helped write and produce big movies such as “Armageddon” and this year’s surprise hit “Cloverfield.” Over the years he has also co-created several TV shows, including “Felicity” and big hits “Lost” and “Alias.” This week, Abrams launches his newest show, “Fringe” on FOX.

The details on the show are pretty scarce other than the fact that it starts off with a plane landing in Boston with no survivors. A female FBI agent Olivia, an old scientist named Walter Bishop and his high school-dropout son Peter are brought together to begin investigating paranormal events.

Abrams talked about his expectations for the show, saying, “You can never guess or assume what anyone is going to think. I can say that it’s one of those shows that if I had nothing to do with it and saw it coming out, I’d want to kill myself. I’d be so miserable because it is so the show that I’d want to watch.”

The show was inspired by Abrams’ love of shows such as “The X-Files” and “The Twilight Zone.” He hopes to create something that’s much less serialized than “Lost.”

“Because I’m so drawn to overarching and sort of long-term stories, there will still be the mythology, the evolution of characters, the revelations of their story and what ‘The Pattern’ means and what they’re doing and how they connect to that,” he said.

“So there’s all the stuff that’s happening. But we’re doing it in a way that is much less week-to-week installments of that story, which then requires you to reset things every time you do an episode that is a mythology episode, which makes it, I hope, something you can watch without feeling like you’re not in the club if you’ve missed an episode.”

To him, “ER” is a model the show will follow in that the characters have ongoing storylines but there are also self-contained episode plots each week. Abrams also says the show is not striving for realism, as some of the stuff on it will be out there, but human relationships will always be important to the series. He believes we may be living in the golden age of science fiction due to the technology available in the world today to produce all sorts of cool-looking effects.

When asked about choosing relative newcomer Anna Torv for the FBI agent role, he said, “When I saw Anna, I just knew that she had a quality that was unique and smart, and she was beautiful but not in a way that felt like she was phony. She seemed tough and sophisticated.”

When Abrams sees somebody that is right for a role in an audition tape, he knows it right away and does everything in his power to bring the person into the show, including former “Dawson’s Creek” star Joshua Jackson, who will star as Peter Bishop.

Upon being asked why he decided to return to TV, Jackson said, “It was this project specifically that drew me back to TV. Frankly, first it was the quality of the script, which is now our pilot, and the density of it. And the fact that even while it was a totally satisfying story unto itself, you can see that it was laid in there, the potential for a whole world, a whole universe of other stories.”

Jackson was long-rumored to have a guest stint on “Grey’s Anatomy” last year, so the itch was obviously back to perform on TV again, and Abrams was the one to get him back. He only wanted to return to TV if he felt the show was in the hands of people that would produce quality material for him and tell good stories for multiple years.

What drew him to the show was the interesting relationship his character has with both his genius father and the FBI agent. Jackson will play kind of a go-between who will handle the issues that develop between Torv’s no-nonsense FBI agent character Olivia and John Noble’s crazy scientist character Walter.

Abrams said the Olivia-Peter relationship will be a complicated and slow-burn storyline that will be fun to follow.

“Fringe” looks to be one of the best new shows of the season. With a great cast and an excellent production team, there is no reason FOX will not have a huge hit that will help tide the network over until “24” and “American Idol” return this winter.